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Scott Pruitt
  Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace  FOX News  April 2, 2017 11:17am-11:30am PDT

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white house declined an invitation. mr. trump, who once called global warming a hoax, signed a sweeping executive order this week calling for regulators to rewrite president obama's climate change policies. joining me now from oklahoma is scott pruitt, mr. trump's new administrator for the environmental protection agency. mr. pruitt, welcome to "fox news sunday." >> good morning, chris. how are you? chris: good. when the obama epa announced its clean power plan, it said that the reduction in carbon pollution would have the following health benefits, i want to put them up on the screen. by 2030 it said there would be 90,000 fewer asthma attacks a year, 300,000 fewer missed work and school days and 3600 fewer premature deaths a year. without the clean power plan, how are you going to prevent those terrible things? >> well, chris, i think what's important this past week is to
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recognize that the president's keeping his promise to the american people to roll back regulatory overreach that's been occurring the last several years. and as you know, the clean power plan is subject to a u.s. supreme court stay. and the steps that have been taken by the epa historically have equally been challenged several times with respect to co2 regulation, and each of those times the supreme court and courts have entered and said that the power that's been used has been an overreach. so the president's keeping his promise to deal with that overreach, chris. it doesn't mean that clean air and clean water is not going to be the focus in the future. we're just going to do it right, within the consistency of the framework that the congress has passed. and i think that's very important to recognize. chris: sir, you're giving me a regulatory answer, not a health answer, i talked about 90,000 fewer asthma attacks, 300,000 fewer missed days in school and work. the obama clean power plan called, that said that carbon
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pollution from the power sector would be reduced by 30%, it would be a third lower than it was in 2005. here's what the american lung association says. half of all americans now live in counties with unhealthy air. you talk about regulatory overreach, but the question is, there are 166 million people living in unclean air, and you're going to remove some of the pollution restrictions which will make the air even worse. >> well, chris, a couple things. we're actually at pre-994 levels with respect to our co2 foot print. this country is doing far better than most across the globe. as you know also since 1980, we've had a 65% reduction in those key air pollutions, particulate matter and to ozone while at the same time growing our economy. i think we've adapted to and adopted this previous administration's view that if you're pro-jobs and pro-growth, you can't be pro-environment.
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if you're pro-environment, you can't be pro-growth and pro-jobs, and that's just simply -- chris: but, sir, if i may, you're talking about these reductions, but even with those reductions the fact is that according to the american lung association -- which would have an interest in this -- 166 million people are living in unsafe air. and if you do away with the clean power plan and boost as the president promises coal production, then you're going to make the air even worse. what about those 166 million people? >> chris, i think what you're referring to is we have about 40% of the country in nonattainment right now with those key air pollutants under our ambient air standards which is outside of the co2 discussion. i agree wholeheartedly we need to focus our attention at making sure we make progressing there. that's one of the key priorities of the administration, is to improve air quality beyond the 60% attainment that we see. that's not been a focal point over the last several years, as much as it should be --
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chris: and let me just ask, you think rewriting, in effect, doing away with the clean power plan is going to improve air quality which you say is a major goal? >> look, chris, what we have to keep in mind is that the epa only pezs authority -- possesses authority that congress gives it the epa has tried twice with the co2 rule, the clean power plan that the president introduced in 2015 which is subject to a u.s. supreme court stay. as much as we want to see progress made with clean air and clean water with an understanding that we can also grow jobs, we have to do so within the framework of what congress has passed. the tools have to be in the toolbox. the past administration just made it up. they reimagined authority under the statute. there's a commitment with the new administration to have a pro-growth, pro-environment approach to these issues but also to respect rule of law. you've talked about many times the regulatory overreach by executive fiat that the previous administration engaged in. we can't continue that process because what happens, chris, is clean air is not advanced
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because you have litigation such as the clean power plan, and you have stays of enforcement against that clean power plan, and there's no progress being made with clean air, and we also are spending money on litigation -- chris: but you, look, i mean, that goes both ways, sir, because the fact is that you're already in litigation on the attempt to reverse the clean power plan. you're already getting sued on that, so there's litigation either way. let me, let me pursue this issue because president trump is going to sit down this week with chinese president xi, and for years american presidents have been pushing chinese leaders to improve greenhouse gas emissions, to reverse them. are you comfortable seeing the roles reversed this week where it'll now be the chinese president pushing pr trump to cut down on pollution? >> well, look, i mean, chris, it's quite -- when you look at what happened in paris at the paris agreement and paris accord, china and india weren't required to take any steps
quote quote
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toward reduction of co2 until the year 2030. that discussion, to think that china and india are more committed to co2 reduction in this country, i think, is quite false. as i indicated earlier, we are pre-1994 levels, and you know what? largely because of fracking, because there's been a conversion to natural gas. and what's important, chris, in my view is utility companies today cross this country, you ought not have the regulator in washington, d.c., in this instance the epa, picking winners and losers, saying to the american people that we're going to be anti-coal, anti-fossil fuel as we generate electricity. that's bad for america. fuel diversity is very important. we have shown leadership. as i've indicated, we've made great progress with our air quality since 1980, and we're -- we've made progress on the co2 reduction side as well at the same time as growing jobs -- chris: but if i may -- >> we have nothing to be apologetic about as a country --
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chris: i'm sorry, say that again? >> we have nothing to be apologetic about with respect to leadership that we've shown as a country with respect to these key issues, and the president doesn't either. he's showing great leadership, and we can do both. chris: let me ask you a specific question on that. you talk about the paris accords which do call for reductions by china and other countries by 2030 and, in fact, china has already begun reducing its carbon emissions from coal power plants as you well know. president xi in january said that the paris climate accords should remain in force as the chief environmental officer for the trump administration, can you make the same commitment to the paris climate accords? >> engagement internationally is very important. to demonstrate the leadership that we've shown on this issue with china and india and other nations is very important. those discussions should ensue. but what paris represents is a bad deal for this country. we front loaded our costs, china
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and india back loaded theirs. that caused a contraction in our economy. we have shown leadership in a key way, chris -- chris: but the point is, sir, the point is that president xi is more committed to paris than the united states is. >> but is he more committed in action and deed, and the answer is, no. we've demonstrated through the steps we've taken already pre-1994 levels because that technology, we can burn coal in a clean fashion. we shouldn't have this commitment by the u.s. government to say that fossil fuels are bad, renewables are good. the u.s. epa and the u.s. government should not pick winners and losers, chris, and that's what's happened the last several years, and we demonstrated that leadership -- chris: i'm sorry to rush you along, but we do have limited time, sir, and i say it respectfully. you had a famous exchange last month that i'd like to play right now. >> do you believe that it's been proven that co2 is the primary control knob for climate? do you believe that? >> no, i would not agree that
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it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see. chris: mr. pruitt, there are all kinds of studies that contradict you. the u.n.'s panel on climate change says it is at least 95% likely more than half the temperature increase since the mid 20th century is due to human activities. noaa, that's our own national oceanic and atmospheric administration, says there's more carbon dioxide now than in the last 400,000 years, and noaa says 2015 and 2014 are the two hottest years on record. mr. twiew wit, are we supposed to believe that's all a coincidence? >> no. look, chris, i've said through the process in my confirmation process, individually with senators as well that there's a warming trend, the climate is changing, and human activity contributes to that change in some to measure. the real issue is how much we contribute to it and measuring that with precision. but then also, what is the process as far as response. what can we do about it.
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the tools in the toolbox to address the co2 issue. and you can't just simply from the epa perspective make that up. you can't do what president obama did and his administration to simply reimagine authority. that's why we have a u.s. supreme court stay against the clean power plan, that's why president trump is dealing with that regulatory overreach and charting the new path forward to deal with these issues within the framework of the -- chris: but, sir, you're kind of sugar coating what you said. you said i would not agree that co2 is a primary contributor to global warming, and the question i have is what if you're wrong? what if, in fact, the earth is warming, what if it is causing dramatic climate change and that we as humans through carbon emissions are contributing to it? simple question. what if you're wrong? >> see, look, let me say to you co2 contributes to greenhouse gas, it has a greenhouse gas effect and global warming as methane does and other types of gases.
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the issue is how much we contribute to it from the human activity perspective and what can be done about it from a prosper spective, chris. chris: but don't you think the fact that we have these coal power plants belching carbon emissions into the area, you don't think that plays a role? >> i think we've done it better than anybody in the world at oning coal in a clean fashion. the technological advances that we've seen along with natural gas production and generating electricity which all contributed to -- have all contributeed to a co2 footprint that's pre-1994. we've been a good steward of our environment. we have nothing to be apologetic about. we're going to operate within the framework of the clean air act to deal with these issues and make sure we advance clean air, clean water not just with respect to co2, but with those key air pollutants under the ambient air quality program we have. chris: again, i apologize sir, because it goes to the whole question of the commitment to trying to improve the environment.
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under the president's new budget, the epa is cut 31%, that is more than any other agency, and i want to put up some of the cuts kin colluded in the -- cuts included in the president's budget. great lakes restoration, water run ah control for farmers, pesticide safety. what does that say about the commitment of this administration and you to cleaning up the environment when you're making a 31% cut in your agency and cutting things like that, water run ahs for farm -- runoffs for farmers? >> well, part of the issue, chris, is over the last several years there's been a lack of commitment to state partnership. you know, we have state departments of environmental quality across the country that have the resources and the expertise to deal with clean water and clean air issues, and so renewing that partnership -- chris: are you sure they're going to pick up the slam, or might water safety, water runoff, great lakes restoration, might that all just go by the wayside?
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>> i've met with several governors, in fact, within the first week of having been on the job i met with 20-plus governor cans, and they're claimed to pro-jobs and pro-environment. they have to serve the people in their states as well. and this attitude in washington, d.c. that people in texas and oklahoma and kansas and colorado and the rest of the country don't care about the water they drink or the air they breathe and are not going to take care of the air and water locally, i just don't believe that. that narrative is something we reject, and we look forward to partnering with states across the country to achieve good outcomes. chris: mr. pruitt, thanks for